Activist-actress Shabana Azmi talks about women empowerment & her NGO to Sangeeta Yadav
- Mijwan Fashion Show is going to happen again with Shah Rukh Khan and Anushka Sharma…
I feel overwhelmed with the support my fraternity has given Mijwan Welfare Society over the years. It is also Manish Malhotra’s tremendous goodwill and Namrata Goyal’s special magic that has seen the Mijwan Fashion Show grow from strength to strength.
- As an woman activist, what are some of the life lessons you have learnt from your father?
My father, Kaifi Azmi, believed that if India is to make real progress, we will have to turn towards our villages where 70 per cent of the population lives with a focus on the girl child. Women are equal to men in every way. The only thing women lack is opportunity. I have seen how empowered women become when they start earning money and become a part of the decision-making process.
- Do you think movies are been made keeping in mind women as heroes? Or do we still need to go a long way?
Depends on whether you like to think of the glass as half full or half empty.
- 99 per cent of the women working in film and TV industry have experienced sexism. What do you have to say about it?
For all our progress, we continue to be a patriarchal society where a boy is privileged over the girl for being born male. Sexism has deep roots in our society in all areas not just in films but women are negotiating more space for themselves
- In real life, do you think women in all strata of society are getting opportunity to be as strong and powerful like heroins?
Cinema shows a mirror to the society. All over the world, empowerment of women is being considered an important yardstick for measuring progress. However India lives in several centuries simultaneously and although we have women in powerful positions in politics, the arts and the corporate world, it is a sad fact that female foeticide is still practised in India. We have to deal with these contradictions and create an equal playing field.
- Do you think actresses are getting their dues in the industry?
It’s a good time for women actors and although the issue of disparity in pay scales is yet to be tackled, the fact is that there are better roles available to women now than in the 90s. Time was when an actress’s career was over at 30. But I have got some of my best parts in my 60s. But we have miles to go before we sleep.
- What are your upcoming projects?
I have just won the Best Actress Award at the Loss Angeles Awards for my work in the American production The Black Prince. The film is getting a worldwide release on May 19, 2017. Another American production Signature Move is releasing soon. It has been mentored by Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Institute and directed by Jennifer Reeder. Aparna Sen’s Sonata and Piyush Panjuani’s Idgah are to be released soon. All these films have very different roles for me and I’m looking forward to them.
(The article also got published in Pioneer Newspaper – http://www.dailypioneer.com/sunday-edition/sunday-pioneer/special/we-have-miles-to-go.html).